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Yet supposing it to be as is intimated) we ask, 1. Do you look upon your going to hear as your duty, or meerly as your liberty ? if the first, let it be proved from any pofitive prçcept of Christ, and we are satisfied : If the second, you are bound by many folemn injunctions ( which are at least reduceable to the Moral Law) not to use your liberty to Scandalize
your Brethren. Secondly, Let both parties be weighed in an upright Ballance, such as you judge to be offended with you for not hearing, and such as are offended thereat. I am bold to say, That the last mentioned, for Number, Holiness, Spirituallity and Tenderness, do far furmount the former, who will really be Scandalized at your forbea
not up in praétise,
did in your
Thirdly, Let also the grounds of the offence on both sides, be weighed; the one are offended at you, That you
build in a day of trouble ; and cause thereby the Enemies of the Lord to tiyumph and blafpheme, what in a day of liberty, you preaching and pradise, pull down and destroy: The other, because of your disobedience to what they are satisfied; and you your selves once were, God is calling you to (viz, to have nothing to do with, separate from, this generation of men.) But
Fourthly, That 'tis your duty (especially if in a Church-Relation) to meet together as a People Galled, and picked by the Lord out of the Nations of the World, in a way of distinction from them, cannot be denied : the negle&t of which, is charged by the Lord, as the first step to Apostacy, Heb. 10.25. Be you in the practise of this duty, and fee, whai Spiritual Saint will be offended at you; if any should, you might have peace therein; you doing your duty, no juft cause of Scan, dal is given. Yet further,
Fifthiy, Consider on which side the Cross lies ; which the Flesh, and Heshly interest is most opposite to, whether in going, or forbearing to go to hear these men, and let that be chofen : usually, that is the way of God that hath most of the Cross in it, and the Aesh is most Arugling and contesting againft. But thus much of the seventh Ara gument.
Argument. 8. That which Saints cannot do without being guilty of partaking with others in their fin, is utterly unlawful for them to do. But the Saints cannot actend upon the Ministry of England, wishout being guilty of
partaking with them in their sin. Therefore mai
The Major Proposition is clearly bottomed upon Scripture, Pfal. So. 18. Ephef. 5.7. 1 Tim. 5. 22. 2 John 11. Rev. 18. 4. which might be abundantly demonstrated were it needful: Sure that God who commands me to abstain from all appearance of evil, 1 Ther. 5.22, never enjoyned, expects not that I should be found in the practice of what, without fin,cannot be performed by me.
The Minor Proposition, viz. That the Saints cannot attend upon the present Ministry of England, without being partakers with them in their fin, will admit of a speedy dispatch. Two things are briefly to be çoquired into.
1. What that, or those fins are we suppose the Minifters of Enge land to be guilty of.
2. How it will appear that any person's attending upon their Miniftry, renders him guilty of partaking with them therein. Of the former we have already treated, and proved (beyond what any are able to say to the contrary) That they are guilty of the sins of worshipping God in a way that is not of his appointment, of acting in the Holy things of God, by vertue of an Antichristian Power, of: fice or Calling; of oppofing really the Prophetical and Kingly Office of Chrift ; of using and conforming to Modes and Rites in Wòrship, not appointed by the Lord, that have been abused to Idolatry, &c. Nor is it denied by our Conforming-Brethren, but with some of these things the present Ministers of England may be justly charged: That they worship God after the way of the Common- PrayerBook, with Modes and Rites used in the Papacy, cannot be denied Nor can their undue administration of that great Ordinance of our Lord Jesus, of breaking Bread to all, according to the form therein prescribed : That they are Ordained, and some of them Re-ordained by the Episcopacy is also known. I ask, are these things the fin and evil of these men, or are they not? If they are not, why did not our preaching-Brethren receive theOrdination from the Bishops these received? Yea, why do not our half-conforming-Brethren attend upon the reading of the Service used, joyn with them in the Sacrament of the Lords Supper as administred by them? Doth not their absenting themselves herefrom, abundantly demonftrate, that they in their consciences are perswaded, that 'tis the fin and evil of the present Priests of England thus to act, and from such a Million in
the Worship of the Lord? As for the second, That the hearing of the present Ministers of England, is that which renders a man guilty, of being partaker with them in their sin; the confideration of the several wayes persons may juftly be charged with being guilty of pane taking with others in their fin, will abundantly demonstrate the truth ehereof. To instance in a few particulars; Then may persons juftly be charged as guilty hereof,
1. When they are found any way consenting with them in their fin, Pfal. 5o. 18. when thou faweft a Theif, then thou consent edft with him, and baft been partaker with Adulterers. 'Tis not the doing of the act that was done by these wicked persons, that is here called partaking with them, but a secret consenting with them therein.
2. When they do that which hath a real tendency to encourage persons in their sin, 2 John 11. Receive them not into your houses, bid ibem not Godspeed; for be that bidderb them God.speed is partaker of their euil deeds.
3. When they neglect the doing of those duties which the Lord requires at their hands, for the reclaiming of them from their fin; such are Watching over, Rebuking, Admonishing, first privately, then by two, and in case of obstinacy and perseverance therein, telling it.to. the Church : which are duties eminently comprized in the ensuing Scriptures, 1 Thef.5.14. Heb.3. 12,13. ard 10,24,25. Lev.19.17. Mai,18,15,16,17.
4. When they (notwitstanding all that they have done, or can do, being under an utter incapacity of proceeding further therein) perceive them to persevere in their fin, shall ftill continue to hold communion with them, and not separate from them. Rev. 18. 4. Come out of bor my People; left being partakers of ber fins, je receive of ber plagues : The abiding with obitinate persevering Offenders as it is against positive injunctions of the Most High, Rom. 16. 17. 2 Cor. 6.14,15,16,17. i Tim.6.5. Ephef. 5.8, 13, Rev.18.4. So is it in the last place instaca'd in) assigned by the Spirit to be one way of partaking with others in their fins. Not to multiply more particulars, let us in a few words make Application of these remarked. To the businels in hand.
Is there any thing in the world that carries a greater brightness and evidence-with it, than this, That the hearing the present Minifters of England, is to be parcakers with them in their lip? is not our so
doing, a secret conseating with them, and encouraging of them in. their evil deeds ? Is this to discharge those duties incumbent apon us (if we indeed look upon them as Brethren) for their reclaiming? yea, is this to come out of, and separate from them? what less ? So then, except it can be proved, that the particulars instanc'd in, are. por some of those wayes, whereby persons do become guilty of partaking with other mens fins; or that to attend upon the present Ministers of England, is not what doth symbolize with some one, more, or all of them (which can never be done ) it evidently follows, that 'cis not lawful for Saints to hear the present Ministers of England, the doing whereof, is apparantly a pariaking with them in their evit deeds.
CHAP. IX. Aninth Argument againft hearing the present Ministers. That it casts
contempt upon the Wayes and Institutions of Chrift, bardens persons in a false, way of Worship and Rebellion against God, proved. Å tentb Argument produced, 'That 'tis not lawful to go into the Asemblies of falje Worsbippers, proved. An eleventh Argument, that there is no promise of a Bleffing upon the bearing these mer, proved. A twelft b Argument, proving, that so to do, is the first step to Apostacy. Several Queries proposed.
Argument 9. Tin
Hat the doing whereof doth cast contempt upon the Wayes and
Institutions (Come one or more of them) of our Lord Jesus, and hardens persons in a false way of Worship and Rebellion against him; is utterly unlawful for the Saints to do : But the hearing of the prefeor Ministers of England is that, the doing whereof doth cast contempt upon the VVayes and Institutions (some one or more of them) of our Lord Jesus, and hardens persons in a falle way of V Vorship and Rebellion against him. Therefore.
The major. Proposition is laid down in such full; clear, and evident expressions, bottom'd upon Scripture and right Reason, as carry, a brightness with them, that none but such as are desperately and jų.. dicially blinded, will or can gainsay.
The minor (or second Proposition) viz. That the hearing of the present Ministers of England, is the doing of that which doth cast contempt upon the VVayes and Fostitutions of our Lord Jesus, and
hardens persons in a false way of VVorship and Rebellion against him, is by our diflenting-Brethren gainsayed. Three things are therein aflerted.
1. That our hearing these persons is that which cafts contempt upon the VVayes and Inftitutions of Christ. 2dly. That it hardens persons in a false way of VVorship. 3dly. That it hardens and encourages souls in their Rebellion against the Lord. As for the firft, a brief Observation of some of the Institutions of Christ, clearly bottom'd upon the Scripture, will abundaptly evince its original to be from God.
First then, That separation from the world and men of the world, from all wayes of falle VVorship, and the Inventions of men thereabout, until the Saints of the Most-High be apparently a People dwelling alone, and not reckoned amongst the Nations (however it be decryed, and found harsh in the ears of carnal men ) is one grand Institution, a man may run and reade in the following Scriptures; Numb. 23. 9. Joh.15. 19. 2 Cor. 6. 14, 15, 17, 19. Eph.5.8, 11, 2 Tim.3.5. HOD.4.15. Rev. 18.4. Prov.i4.7. (nor is it denied by some of our Conforming-Brethren.)
Secondly, Thar Saints separate from the world, should frequently meet together as a diftin& body therefrom, for the edification and building up of each other in the VVay and VVill of God, according to the gifts bestowed upon them, is so evidently asserted, as the Institution of our alone King and Lawgiver in the Scripture, that it cannot be gainsayed; Mal.3.16. 1 Thef.5.11. Heb. 3. 12. Jude 20. Heb.10.24,25, 1 Cor.12,9. Acts 12.12. & 18.23. Ephef.s. 19. fam.5.16. I Thef.5.14.
Thirdly, That particular Congregations, or Afsemblies of Believers, gathered into one body, for the Celebration of the Worship of God (in opposition to any National Church or Churches whatsoever) is of the Appointment of Christ, is alike evident as the former. Att. 8.1, 3. & 12. 1. & 13. 14. & 15. 22. & 18.22. & 20, 14, 28. 1 Cor.1.2. & 6.4. Aits 9.1. I Cor.16.19. Rom. 16.4. 2 Cor.8.1. Gal. 1.2. Afts 16.4,5. & 14.23. 1 Cor.11,12. & 14. 4,5,12,19. 2 Cor.1.1. Rev. 1, 2, 3,11.
Fourthly, That Chrift hath appointed Officers of his own, to act in the Holy-things of God, in and over these Assemblies, whom he furnithech with Gifts every way suiting their Imployment, to whom,